Frosted Carrot Ancho Snack Cake

Something of interest came up in our household the other day, something that you may already be aware of. This family learned, for the first time, about the Thundershirt. Maybe you’ve heard of these?

Thundershirts are tight little tees for your pup, the idea being that gentle pressure on the canine bod will sooth any jangled nerves he/she may be experiencing due to, say, a passing thunderstorm.

And being a canine household, as well as a person who is always fascinated by infomercials and their associated products, Thundershirts got me thinking.

I started thinking that maybe it would be nice to have Thundershirts for more than just dogs.

Like, wouldn’t it be nice to have Thundershirts for husbands?

I don’t have any children yet, but I think that, when I do, I would like to have a kid-sized Thundershirt handy in the case of any emergency tantrums.

I would like to have our presidential candidates wear Thundershirts during their debates. And I would request that Thundershirts be made available to Real Housewives across the land.

Seriously, Thundershirts are looking more and more like the solution to so many problems!

I personally think that A. would especially appreciate having a wife-shaped Thundershirt on hand:  one of M.’s programs is preempted – strap on the Thundershirt; Target runs out of M.’s favorite writing implement – have that Thundershirt available; and, of course, dessert is, for whatever reason, not an option tonight – best get out the industrial-strength Thundershirt!


Wouldn’t it be nice to self-sooth while you’re doing just about anything else? Thundershirts could be like Spanx – you’re calm, cool and collected and no one needs to know your secret. So much less messy than so many other stress-reduction measures.

But, you know, I’ve looked around online. I’ve stayed up until 2 a.m. surfing the infomercial-laden channels. I’ve scoured the ‘As Seen On TV’ section of my local stores. And I have yet to find a Thundershirt for non-canine types.

Snack cake will have to serve as my current Thundershirt stand-in.

I love snack cake because it’s so simple to prepare. I love snack cakes because they’re small and result in much less leftovers and much less guilt for a small household such as my own. And I love snack cakes because, when prepared correctly, they’re moist, they’re flavorful, and they are perfect for, well, a snack.

So if you see a Thundershirt that you think might fit, please let me know. Otherwise, let’s share a piece of Frosted Carrot Ancho Snack Cake in the interim.

Frosted Carrot Ancho Snack Cake

For the cake:
1/2 c. canola oil (vegetable oil or any other light oil may be substituted)
1 large egg
1 c. white sugar, granulated
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile, ground
1 c. carrot, peeled, shredded

For the frosting:
1 c. whipped cream cheese
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1/4 c. whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. canela, ground (ground cinnamon may be substituted)

To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350°.

Beat the sugar, oil and egg together in a large bowl. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, ancho chile, and then buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and beating just until you have a uniform batter. Fold in the carrot. Pour the finished batter into an 8″ x 8″ square baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake for just 35 minutes. This cake is quite dense and, if you test at 35 minutes with a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake, some crumbs may still stick. The finished cake will be puffed across the top and dark brown at the edges, which should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove and set aside to cool before unmolding.

Meanwhile, to prepare the frosting, place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and begin by beating on a low speed just to combine. Once combined, increase the speed of your mixer to high and beat for several minutes to whip the frosting to a light, airy consistency. Unmold your cake and frost generously. Note that snack cakes are meant to be extremely casual in my mind:  I tend to plop the frosting right onto the top of the cake and spread it out so that it simply spills over the sides of the cake. If you want to be a little more precise you can carefully spread the frosting over the top and across the sides – there’s more than enough here to cover the entire cake with this recipe.

I usually serve this cake immediately, but you can also store, in the pan and refrigerated for several days before serving.

YIELD:  9 large pieces


  1. 18


    I just keep staring at this cake! I’ve got to remember to keep myself up-to-date with your blog or else I get a few posts behind and sit on my bed just wanting to dive into my screen… that cake?! seriously?! You’re something special, lady!

  2. 17

    Christine says

    You had me at ancho chile… Seriously, carrot cake is quite wonderful in and of itself, but to add some kick to it? What an amazing idea! By the way, I was watching “Parenthood” the other evening, and a character with autism received a weighted blanket that, in principle, does the same thing for humans that a Thundershirt does for a dog. I googled them and I think they are called magic blankets. Just in case you’re interested! ;-)

  3. 15

    susan says

    Thanks meagan! I ended up googling canela. So interesting. I have a penzeys catalog and they do carry ceylon cinnamon so i will be picking that up with the ancho. Thanks for another delicious sounding dish

  4. 13

    susan says

    This sounds so intriquing. I need to make. What is canela? I will be stopping by penzeys, are you familiar with their types of cinnamons? Could you recommend one as a substitute?
    Our little guy has panic attacks when super excited but storms dont bother him

    • Meagan says

      GREAT questions and I LOVE that you shop at Penzey’s – they have the best spices, don’t you think?

      Canela is Mexican cinnamon. It’s not just cinnamon that comes from Mexico, it is actually a different type of cinnamon. Mexican cinnamon is of the Ceylon variety, while the overwhelming majority of cinnamon sold and consumed in the United States is of the Cassia variety.

      Cassia cinnamon originates from China and other parts of Southeast Asia. The sticks are typically rolled into a ‘double scroll’-type shape and they are quite hard, requiring some muscle to grind. Ceylon cinnamon originates from Sri Lanka, is much thinner and more brittle than Cassia, and the sticks are much more easily ground using a spice grinder or even a mortar and pestle. Ceylon sticks are most often rolled into a single tube like a cigar.

      I have been toasting and hand-grinding Mexican Ceylon cinnamon for a number of years now so I am much more accustomed to its taste as opposed to the taste of Cassia cinnamon. That said, I find the taste of the Cassia cinnamon that you would find in an American grocery store to be much more aggressive than Ceylon cinnamon from Mexico. At times, to be honest, Cassia cinnamon can even taste a little metallic to my palate – gross. So it’s probably no surprise that I recommend using Ceylon cinnamon instead of Cassia cinnamon if you can get your hands on it.

      While it might not be from Mexico, your local Penzey’s should stock both Ceylon and Cassia cinnamons. Give the Ceylon a try – you can lightly toast the sticks for just a few minutes in a dry pan and then grind to a fine powder. I think you’ll find that once you go Ceylon, you never go back to Cassia.

      I hope this helps!

      • says

        I love Penzey spices! When we were back in Oregon for a visit home I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said: Love People…Cook Them Tasty Food.

        I knew I needed one immediately and turns out Penzey made them as a promo deal. They sent me one in the mail for free! Love it.

        The cake looks fabulous btw my carrot cakes are never moist enough for our taste hopefully this recipe will end my search!

  5. 11


    After years of thinking I hated carrot cake, I accidentally ate some and realized I love it. Definitely trying this recipe…I can’t resist anything with cream cheese anyway.

    • Meagan says

      ABSOLUTELY OK! And I LOVED reading your interview with Sprinkle Bakes today – two of my favorite bloggers in one post!! :)

  6. 4


    My sister and I fell about in hysterics when my mom said she’d bought a thunderblanket (what they’re called where I’m from) for our Jack Russell. But they work like a charm!

  7. 2


    I love this little snack cake. And 8×8 pan of anything is usually plenty – it gives me the flavor/taste I need without making enough leftovers for a football team. I mean, variety is the spice of life, right!

    And carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, the best. I have a carrot cake recipe coming up next week!

    • Meagan says

      Woot! Carrot cake in the air! I’m telling you, between the carrot cake and cream cheese frostings, you and I are on the same paaaaaaage!!

    • Meagan says

      You know, one of my favorite things about this cake is that the ancho doesn’t really add a lot of HEAT, more just a luscious earthy FLAVOR that goes really well with the carrot and cinnamon frosting. Let me know what you think if you give this recipe a try!

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